At least two private all-girls Jewish schools in London are facing closure after a government agency discovered that they do not teach young girls about sexual orientation and transgender identity.
A government report explained that girls “are not explicitly taught about issues such as sexual orientation. This restricts pupils’ spiritual, moral, social and cultural development and does not promote equality of opportunity in ways that take account of differing lifestyles.”
This report from the Office of Standards in Education, Children’s Services and Schools (Ofsted) said the Vishnitz Girls School in the north London borough of Hackney did not provide children “a full understanding of fundamental British values,” Heat Street reported. The school teaches 212 children between the ages of three and eight.
Ofsted noted that school administrators “recognise the requirement to teach about the protected characteristics as set out in the Equality Act 2010. However, they acknowledge that they do not teach pupils about all the protected characteristics, particularly those relating to gender re-assignment and sexual orientation. This means that pupils have a limited understanding of the different lifestyles and partnerships that individuals may choose in present-day society.”
Again, these girls allegedly harmed by not being taught about “different lifestyles and partnerships” are all under 9 years old, an age many parents — especially religious parents — would consider too young to learn about “the birds and the bees,” much less the birds and the birds or the bees and the bees.
The Vishnitz Girls School reportedly failed its Ofsted inspection three times since February 2016, defiantly resisting the British government’s attempt to force its views on 3- to 8-year-old children.
The British magazine Schools Week reported that Vishnitz is not the only private Jewish girls school falling short of Ofsted’s LGBT teaching standards. Bnos Zion of Bobov, also in Hackney, failed the Ofsted inspection because the school made “no reference to protected characteristics for sexual orientation and gender reassignment.”
Bnos Zion is much larger, with 1,416 students between prekindergarten and 12th grade.
British regulations give the Department for Education the power to take schools failing the Ofsted standards off the independent school register, which would make it a criminal offense for these schools to remain open.
“Finally, Ofsted has revealed its true agenda,” declared Gill Robins of Christians in Education, a pro-religious education group, in a blog post on the issue. “It doesn’t matter how good your school is in all other respects — simply refusing to teach very young children about gender reassignment will lead to your closure. That is the possible outcome for not only this school, but other Jewish schools which refuse, as a matter of faith, to teach about LGBT issues.”
Ironically, the argument used to force such education is that LGBT people are protected under the Equality Act. But Robins pointed out that religious belief is also a “protected characteristic.”
“It’s now been made crystal clear by Ofsted that the Equality Act is actually hierarchical, with sexual orientation and gender reassignment at the apex of the Act. All equalities are equal, but some equalities are more equal than others,” Robins argued. “There are just two options — protect the right of individuals to live and raise their children in accordance with their faith, or make a mockery of the Equality Act by closing schools that fail to comply with your LGBT agenda.”
It is important to note that while most of the religious freedom-LGBT rights debates seem to center around Christian churches, bakers, florists, and others, the issue is much larger than just Christianity. Orthodox Judaism also holds to traditional beliefs about marriage, sexuality, and gender. So do most forms of Islam.
In the United States, it seems LGBT activists choose to target Christians because Americans tend to think of Christianity as the majority religion, and fear that Christianity will be made America’s official state religion. This is not a real threat, but the perception makes it easy for LGBT activists to target Christians and make them seem uniquely “hateful” on these issues.
The targeting of Orthodox Jewish schools in Britain underscores the fact that opposition to the LGBT morality goes far beyond the evangelical Christian church in America. Christians, Jews, and even Muslims need to unite and condemn the tactics of the LGBT movement, which seeks to enforce its beliefs on marriage, sexuality, and gender through the law.
Earlier this year, a Christian preschool in Florida closed, out of fear that it would be forced to teach transgenderism to young kids.
Recent developments in America — from the Supreme Court agreeing to consider a Colorado baker’s right to refuse to bake a cake for a gay wedding to the 5th Circuit Court’s ruling to uphold Mississippi’s religious freedom law — suggest religious freedom might be winning the debate. But in both the United States and across the pond, those who accept the traditional views on these issues need to stand up for their religious liberty to live according to those beliefs.
Private religious schools should not be forced to teach kids as young as 8 years old about homosexuality and transgenderism in violation of their beliefs, whether the schools are Jewish, Christian, or Muslim. It is time for all sides to champion religious freedom.